Sir Christopher Lee, who passed away on Sunday at 93, may have been a screen legend for decades, known to many as the last living horror icon for his role as Dracula. But for a newer generation, he'll be remembered as the evil Saruman in all of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings adaptations, including Jackson's three-part The Hobbit trilogy, which wrapped up last year. On Thursday, Jackson paid tribute to his old friend in a touching Facebook post:
It is with tremendous sadness that I learnt of the passing of Sir Christopher Lee. He was 93 years old, had not been in his usual good health for some time, but his spirit remained, as always, indomitable.
Christopher spoke seven languages; he was in every sense, a man of the world; well versed in art, politics, literature, history and science. He was scholar, a singer, an extraordinary raconteur and of course, a marvelous actor. One of my favourite things to do whenever I came to London would be to visit with Christopher and Gitte where he would regale me for hours with stories about his extraordinary life. I loved to listen to them and he loved to tell them - they were made all the more compelling because they were true - stories from his time with the SAS, through the Second World War, to the Hammer Horror years and later, his work with Tim Burton - of which he was enormously proud.
I was lucky enough to work with Chris on five films all told and it never ceased to be a thrill to see him on set. I remember him saying on my 40th Birthday (he was 80 at the time), “You’re half the man I am”. Being half the man Christopher Lee is, is more than I could ever hope for. He was a true gentleman, in an era that no longer values gentleman.
I grew up loving Christopher Lee movies. For most of my life I was enthralled by the great iconic roles he not only created - but continued to own decades later. But somewhere along the way Christopher Lee suddenly, and magically, dissolved away and he became my friend, Chris. And I loved Chris even more.
There will never be another Christopher Lee. He has a unique place in the history of cinema and in the hearts of millions of fans around the world.
The world will be a lesser place without him in it.
My deepest sympathies to Gitte and to his family and friends.
Rest in peace, Chris.
An icon of cinema has passed into legend.